Just as the best foods are made from scratch, so are the best facial treatments, at least according to Penny Williams.
She started a business teaching women how to make their own skin treatments from natural ingredients, most of which can be found in the average kitchen cupboard.
“Your skin is an organ,” she said, adding that people wouldn’t spread a tube of highly processed lotion on their hearts or livers. So why is it OK for their skin?
She launched Spa by Penny this spring from her Issaquah home.
The business is simple. Williams throws small parties at peoples’ homes, but unlike the Tupperware and makeup parties, there is no sales pitch at the end.
Guests walk away with thoughtful gift bags and soft skin, not order forms for the whatchamacallit chopper.
Acting more like a chef than a beautician, Williams teaches about the different qualities in her chosen recipes.
Lemon juice is acidic, so it helps remove dead skin cells. Oatmeal exfoliates and helps absorb oil. Witch hazel, a substitute for rubbing alcohol, is an astringent. It helps close skin pours after the facial.
Her thyme fennel cleanser is refreshing and aromatic, much like a clever cocktail. However, the chocolate mask smells more like chocolate cake. She insists that it wouldn’t hurt to lick your lips.
“You can literally taste it and then go ahead and put it on your face,” Williams said.
Don’t ask her to put on the spread, however. She doesn’t pretend to be an aesthetician. Application is up to the guests.
She teaches them 10 different recipes for a facial and pedicure.
For Williams, her method isn’t only a healthy way to take care of your skin, it’s also a cheaper way, she insists.
“The mission is to get people to think a second longer when they’re at their farmers markets or grocery stores,” she said. “It’s amazing what you can do with a lemon.”
Her interest in natural facial treatments began about 10 years ago when she rediscovered a book on the subject. A gift, it sat on her shelf for about five years.
She was preparing for a move from Los Angeles to the Seattle area, and had the idea of throwing a small party with her friends.
It was such a success she did it again with her new friends in Washington. It slowly clicked she could make a business off of it.
Before starting Spa by Penny, she decided to get her masters of business administration from Seattle University, a life goal.
She still works at Eastside Catholic School as the school’s marketing director, slowly growing her business on the side.
Spa by Penny
Pricing: $350 for a party of six, $250 without a facilitator
Penny Williams started a business teaching women how to make their own facial supplies from scratch using natural ingredients. BY CELESTE GRACEY
Lemon and fennel facial cleanser
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp honey
Juice from half of a lemon
1/2 cup boiling water
Crush the fennel seeds using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small mixing bowl.
Pick the thyme leaves from their sprigs, adding them to the bowl. Then add lemon juice, honey and 1/2 cup of boiling water.
Allow the ingredients to steep for about 10 minutes.
Using cotton balls, apply generously to the face and neck. Rinse when finished and pat dry.
Recipe courtesy of Penny Williams
Almost all the ingredients Penny Williams uses to make her natural cleanser can be found in most kitchen cupboards. BY CELESTE GRACEY